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No. 12 Maryland women’s basketball vs Northwestern preview

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The Terps travel to Evanston for a New Year’s Eve showdown.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 07 Women’s Northwestern at Maryland Getty Images

Fresh off a win to open up Big Ten play, No. 12 Maryland women’s basketball will take to Evanston to face Northwestern Tuesday night.

The Terps dispatched then-No. 23 Michigan last Saturday, 70-55, in what was a breakout game for senior guard Kaila Charles. She tallied season-highs in points and rebounds with 23 and 11, earning Big Ten Player of the Week and ESPNw National Player of the Week honors for the first time this season.

Now facing one of the top teams in the conference, Maryland will need its leading scorer from a season ago to remain in top form. Since joining the Big Ten in 2014, Maryland has yet to falter in any of its games against Northwestern, winning all eight matchups with the Wildcats by an average margin of 16.13 points.

The game will tip off at 5 p.m. ET and will be broadcasted on Big Ten Network.

Northwestern Wildcats (11-1, 1-0)

Head coach Joe McKeown is in his 11th season in Evanston and has guided the Wildcats to new heights over the course of his tenure. With over 30+ years of coaching experience, McKeown has won more games than any other coach in program history and figures to continue to lead Northwestern to success in what will likely be the final leg of an illustrious coaching career.

Players to Watch

Junior guard Lindsey Pulliam (No. 10), a Silver Spring, Maryland, native, paces the Wildcats in scoring so far in the 2019-20 season. Averaging a career-best 18.6 points per game, she’s done so on 42 percent shooting from the field and 35.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Senior forward Abbie Wolf (No. 21) is McKeown’s presence inside, using her 6’4 frame to command the paint on both ends of the floor. She trails just Pulliam in points per game with 12.1, and she leads the team with 7.2 rebounds per game. Look for Wolf to give sophomore Terp forward Shakira Austin all she can handle inside on Tuesday night.

Senior forward Abi Scheid (No. 44) is an athletic forward that can hurt opposing defenses from anywhere on the floor. Standing at 6’2, Scheid can score efficiently around the rim as well as stretch the floor, as she’s shooting 47 percent from the field and 45 percent on three-pointers so far this season. The senior averages 9.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists, and with Austin likely sticking Wolf, she could present a difficult mismatch problem for the Terps to have to solve.

Strength

Assists. The Wildcats share the ball as well as anyone in the country, having multiple ball-handlers that can set up baskets for teammates. Led by sophomore guard Veronica Burton, who averages 5.8 assists per game, Northwestern ranks ninth in Division I in assists per game with 19.0 per contest, trailing just Iowa and Maryland in regard to the Big Ten.

Weakness

Rebounding. Without much else of a presence down low outside of Wolf, Northwestern has struggled to control the boards so far this season. Pulling down just 37.5 per game, the Wildcats rank 199th in the country in rebounds per game and 12th in the Big Ten. The Terps haven’t necessarily dominated the boards this season either, but should be able to win on the glass against Northwestern.

Three Things to Watch

1. Can Charles keep it up? The senior Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year waited until the inaugural game of conference play to put on her best performance and will look to continue to play at a high level going forward. Reaching double-digit scoring in each of her last three and recording double-doubles in both of the last two, Charles’ continued success would only further elevate Maryland’s already sky-high potential.

2. Will Maryland bounce back from behind the arc? Following its best three-point shooting performance of the season against Georgia State (15-for-27), Maryland put in a clunker of a game from deep against Michigan. The team’s top two shooters in sophomore guard Taylor Mikesell and senior guard Blair Watson combined to shoot just 2-for-8 from deep, with the Terps shooting a season-low 2-for-11 from distance.

Mikesell and Watson should be looking to improve upon their performance from last time out, but it will be tough as opponents have shot 26.1 percent from deep against Northwestern this season.

3. Can Maryland remain atop the Big Ten? The Terps entered this season as the favorite to win the Big Ten and remain the highest ranked team in the conference. But with the level of talent, and the likes of Indiana and Northwestern giving chase, Maryland will need to bring it in every Big Ten matchup of the season this year.